The beginning of a relationship is a thrilling and exciting period. It entails sharing your life with your partner and making space for each other in your lives.
This can be a major transition as you learn to get along and work together to create a functional unit.
It’s understandable that during love’s initial bloom, you may get caught up in the novelty of the experience and spend a lot of time together. This can be extremely healthy in setting the foundation of your relationship and will help you understand and adjust to one another.
However, it is also crucial to set certain boundaries so you retain your identity and avoid making your relationship your primary identity. While it’s easy enough to get caught up in a new relationship, it isn’t healthy for you or your partner.
If you suspect that you may have lost your sense of self or are struggling to function independently, it will help to know what the signs are when someone’s lost their identity during the course of their relationship. This will allow you to take a good hard look at yourself and make some necessary changes.
This article outlines important signs that will tell you are in a codependent relationship and how to regain your identity.
5 Signs You’re in a Codependent Relationship
Once the honeymoon phase is over, your relationship will only be one aspect of your life, albeit an important one. If the lines are beginning to blur between who you are as a couple and who you are outside of your relationship, check yourself for the following signs:
1. Your Social Life Is Nonexistent
It’s only natural to enjoy your partner’s company and prefer to spend time with them over everyone else. However, if you’ve stopped spending time with your friends or don’t hang out with anyone else, you need to sit yourself down and reconsider the direction in which you’re headed.
This can become a problem because it isolates you. You may skip plans and activities you enjoy, but your partner does not.
2. You Don’t Have Hobbies Anymore
Do you have hobbies that you’re willing to pursue on your own? Having your own life outside of your relationship is good for you and good for the relationship.
While spending time together is good, it’s also healthy to have your own passions and interests. It makes you a more interesting person and it builds confidence.
Spending all your time together is a major sign that you lack individuality and autonomy. This is especially true if your partner isn’t interested in your hobbies and you feel the need to give them up just so you can spend more time with each other.
3. You Say “We” More Often Than “I”
It’s not uncommon for couples to be viewed as a single entity or a joint unit in a long-term relationship. But if you find that you approach every situation with a collective point of view, it can be unhealthy.
It may become harder for you to express your individual thoughts or feelings about a certain situation, resorting to phrases such as “we think,” “we feel,” or “we will” instead.
This also applies to attending events and making plans. If you constantly feel the need to say “we” instead of “I” when dealing with situations, it may be time to question whether it’s just a habit or whether you’ve unintentionally merged your personality with your partner.
It’s possible that you no longer consider yourself a separate individual with independent wants and needs and only see yourself as part of a “we.”
4. You Prioritize Them Over Yourself
While it’s normal and healthy to want your partner to be happy, putting their happiness first all the time can have negative ramifications and become unhealthy.
In such a situation, you’ll find that you often give up things you like, avoid doing things you enjoy, or make plans that would only please your partner, even if they involve activities that you’re not a fan of.
Moreover, setting aside your own goals and aspirations for your partner’s sake is another glaring sign that you’ve lost your identity.
This often happens because you start placing your partner’s needs, wants, opinions, and goals above your own, creating a codependent relationship.
Often, it may also become hard for you to determine whether you’re doing certain things for yourself or for your partner and your relationship.
5. You Feel Anxious About Your Partner and Your Relationship
If you no longer have your own identity, you may realize that it becomes increasingly difficult for you to picture yourself outside of your relationship.
This means that the relationship has become such a focal point in your life that you can no longer imagine a situation where it doesn’t exist. This can also manifest as taking complete responsibility for your partner’s health and happiness and feeling solely accountable for making the relationship work.
If the thought of losing your relationship fills you with immense dread and a feeling of personal failure, it could be because the relationship has become a primary aspect of your identity.
How To Regain Your Identity in a Relationship
Losing your identity in a codependent relationship happens gradually. You may be caught off-guard to suddenly realize that you can no longer separate yourself from it.
Here are some ways to regain your perspective and sense of identity:
- Consciously schedule time for your own hobbies during the week.
- Spend a few days a month with your friends.
- Journal about yourself and things you like.
- Try restarting activities you stopped after entering the relationship.
- Make a conscious effort to try new things together.
- Instead of doing something you don’t want to do, encourage your partner to indulge in their interests on their own while you enjoy your own free time.
- Set aside a few hours a day to do something on your own.
Live Full Lives Together and as Individuals
It’s important to remember that a relationship is only one aspect of your life and personality. While it isn’t uncommon for people to lose their identity or change their priorities after starting a relationship with someone, it must be done in moderation. Overreliance on a relationship and making your partner your world is very unhealthy.
Now that you know what to look out for and how you can regain your individuality and identity, you can enjoy a healthier, more balanced relationship!
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When Keren is not actually tapping away at her keyboard, you’ll find her staring into space or drinking copious amounts of coffee. But make no mistake, she's hard at work even then. Come close enough and you’ll hear the whooshing noise of countless words as they go whizzing by - in her head of course.